Creative People 2: Corporate Love / Hate

This has been a busy couple of weeks, with events in Nashville — one to pimp my business — and the other for the city of Saint Louis, promoting the world’s friendliest city to the American Bus Association — a group that loves green screen photos more than any other I’ve ever seen.  Ever.  We did thousands.  I’m not exaggerating.  Well, maybe a little.  From Nashville I went directly to a social event in Washington, DC, and then, finally, home.

And in the midst of all that travelling, all that talking to people, one thing stuck in my head: how different creative people are from the crowd.

Let’s start with the guy who had a 4 inch spike through his nose.  He was dressed in a kilt, and showed obvious tattoos all over his arms (and I assume the rest of his torso).  I met him at the social event in Washington, DC, and the reason he started speaking to me was simple:

I was staring.

I couldn’t help it.

Did I mention he had a 4 inch spike through his nose?

I’m not sure who I thought he was.  I’m not sure what I was thinking, except, I couldn’t take my eyes off his spike.  I thought he’d wandered away, gotten lost off the punk bus, and stumbled into the ritzy hotel where the event was being held.

Anyway, he came over to say hello.  It turned out he is a major New York fashion designer, responsible for dressing everyone from Broadway stars to European royalty.  I couldn’t quite get my head around that: he wasn’t a punk rocker strung out on meth, but a savvy business man running a very large clothing empire.  I felt suddenly nerdy.

And that’s how creative people are.  They are on the edge, somewhere.  If they turn too far to the right, they tumble off.  If they turn too far to the left, they hurdle into oblivion.  Somehow, they walk the ledge, and they walk it successfully.

In Nashville, I covered an event which spotlighted hot talent.  The Four Tenors, dudes on neon lit pogo sticks flipping over the audience, bands of every shape, size and timber all performed for the meeting planners hoping to get noticed.

The creative energy was palpable. After they performed, I heard many self – criticizing their own show.  They didn’t feel like they’d hit the mark.

Of course they hit the mark.  Artists are their own worst enemies.  They are always doubting themselves.  I think it’s that doubt, coupled with burning, deep, blinding passion that drives art.

Leonardo Da Vinci was either going to be executed for his sexual misconduct (or as a witch) OR he was going to join the Pope at the Vatican assisting the Papal Armies OR he was being courted by the De’ Medicis to design more weapons for the Florentine army.  Think about that.  At one time, they are bringing Da Vinci up on charges of perversion, and on the next they are hiring him to CREATE.  Fighting over him, in fact.

There’s always a love / hate relationship between corporate circles and artists.  What’s vulgar one year becomes cool the next.  The boundary ever shifting, it’s no wonder so many artists are drugged out of their skull.

Think about the Pope who decided all those Roman statues sporting male genitalia were vulgar, and so ordered every penius chisled off.  Then, compare that to earlier Romans who cast their own genitals and made plaster impressions of them, displayed their members proudly in a cabinet next to their wax family masks, all to show the world they were MEN.

How did, in a relatively few years, Rome go from casting genitalia to chiseling off penius?  How did a man with a 4 inch spike through his nose get discovered by the Princess of Narnia?  And, how did someone decide one day they wanted to be the best damned extreme pogo stick athlete in the world?

I can only answer how one spiky haired guy decided to be a photographer.  I can remember sitting in my homemade hot tub — yes, I do mean homemade — staring up at the stars and thinking, “Please.  Please let me be successful at this.  Please show me the way.”

Now, this may seem odd for a guy that isn’t at all religious.  But I remember it distinctly.  There was (is) a burning demand that forced me to quit my day job at Target and slowly become a professional photographer.

The becoming wasn’t so hard.  The growing and being successful, that was harder.  But one year I realized I didn’t worry so much about money.  And as the years went by, and the business grew, I suddenly realized other photographers were asking me:

“How, how do I make this work.  Please tell me.”

When did that happen?  And when will I stop creating?

I suspect the answer is simple.

When I’ve gone the way of those chiseled off peniuses, stuffed away somewhere in a basket and forgotten.

Perhaps a Pope decided phalluses on statues were bad, but in Rome they still make the best cannollis!